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Aug 24

Jean Grey #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

JEAN GREY vol 2 #1
“Mind Maze”
Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colour artist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

JEAN GREY. I’d completely forgotten that there was a volume 1, to be honest. It was an ongoing series about the time-travelling Silver Age version of the character, which ran for 11 issues between 2017-2018. I dimly remember it being something to do with her touring the Marvel Universe to prepare herself to become Phoenix. Anyway, it’s nothing we need concern ourselves with.

COVER / PAGE 1. Symbolic image of the face of Jean Grey over the sea, I guess. Lovely image. Nice logo, too.

PAGE 2. John Romita tribute page.

PAGE 3. Jean wonders where she is.

Jean was killed while fighting Orchis in X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023. She wasn’t wearing the costume shown here, which is her standard present-day costume from X-Men. The idea seems to be that Jean’s consciousness has somehow survived the death of her body, perhaps by decamping to the astral plane, and a disoriented Jean is experiencing visions as she tries to figure out how she got to this point. With the possible exception of this page, nothing in this issue takes place in the “real” world.

“I’m dying… Been there … so many times before.” The most obvious examples are X-Men #100-101 (1976), where she’s dying from cosmic radiation exposure until Phoenix comes along to save her; and New X-Men #150 (2004) where she’s killed by Xorn/Magneto. Jean also has the memories of the deaths of her duplicates Phoenix in X-Men #137 (1980) and Madelyne Pryor in X-Factor #38 (1989). And of course she’s been resurrected during the Krakoan era too.

“But what about the others?” Presumably a hazy recollection of everyone else who was killed at the Gala.

PAGE 4. Jean’s patchwork of flashbacks.

This is basically recap stuff, with an intentionally incoherent selection of images at the top of the page and something more coherent along the bottom. Jean appears in the background of all the bottom panels, although in the last one she’s obscured by a caption. Those five panels show:

  • Jean’s telepathy emerging when her friend Annie Richardson is hit by a car, originally from a flashback in Bizarre Adventures #27 (1981) (her origin story).
  • Professor X starting to train Jean, from the same story.
  • The original five X-Men from the early Silver Age (though late enough that Iceman is made of ice rather than snow).
  • A slightly odd panel which the narration suggests is Marvel Girl being visited by the Beast so that he can bring the Silver Age X-Men to the future. That happened in All-New X-Men #1 (2012), which in turn sees Beast interrupting the events of X-Men #8 (1964). However, Jean is shown here wearing the green outfit and pointy yellow mask which didn’t come along until X-Men #39 (1967). And Beast has shorter hair than he would at that point. Moreover, Beast is shown wearing the correct costume in one of the panels higher up the page, so artist Bernard Chang definitely has the correct references available. So either this is meant to be showing something else or there’s some reason why the art is off.
  • Kid Cable arranges for the X-Men to finally go home to their own time, in the miniseries Extermination (2018).

In terms of the panels at the top of the page, we’ll take these from left to right:

  • Starting top left, the Avengers haul Jean’s suspended animation capsule out of Jamaica Bay in Avengers #263 (1985). Since Jean is supposed to be in the capsule, the woman in the foreground in the diving gear is probably meant to be the Wasp.
  • Below that, Cyclops, Storm, and Madelyne Pryor with baby Nathan Summers in Uncanny X-Men #201 (1986) – Jean apparently can’t separate her memories from Phoenix’s and Madelyne’s.
  • Below that, a generic shot of Dark Phoenix.
  • Below that, a generic shot of Madelyne Pryor as the Goblin Queen.
  • Another image of Jean and Annie Richardson.
  • Below it and to the right, another image of Jean’s early training with Xavier.
  • At the top of the page, Jean with the original X-Factor.
  • To the right of that, and in the larger image below, just all purpose images of Jean.
  • In the centre, Jean as one of the Silver Age X-Men.
  • Below that, what seems to be Professor X using Cerebro in extreme close-up.
  • The same odd panel of Beast with Jean in the wrong costume.
  • Above that, Beast and the Silver Age X-Men arrive in the present day.
  • Another little head shot of Jean.
  • Above it, more of Cable from Extermination.
  • Below it, Beast visiting the Silver Age X-Men in All-New X-Men #1.
  • Top right, Emma Frost, who apparently made a real impact on Jean in order to merit inclusion here.
  • Below her, Dark Phoenix.
  • And below that, the space shuttle flight that leads to Jean becoming Phoenix (or being replaced by Phoenix, depending on how you want to read it).

PAGE 5-6. Jean enters the Silver Age timeline and alters history.

Or at least, that’s what she imagines herself doing. Extermination was supposed to end with the timeline being preserved by the Silver Age X-Men being reset to their Silver Age status quos and having their memories of their time in the present suppressed until they reached the present day. In this “timeline”, Jean decides not to bother with all that, so that the Silver Age X-Men can set about changing the world now, with the benefit of their greater experience and their knowledge of what’s going to come.

A running theme of All-New X-Men was teenage Jean being very cavalier about using her new telepathic powers to alter people’s minds and get them to do what she wanted; evidently in this version she’s reverting to that temptation.

PAGE 7. Recap and credits. Jean Grey is the only character in the dramatis personae, with six seperate images all showing her.

PAGES 8-12. The Silver Age X-Men fight Magneto.

This isn’t based on anything in particular from the Silver Age. If you want to be nitpicky, if the Silver Age X-Men are returning to the past circa X-Men #8, Magneto ought to be with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants at this point (they don’t disband until issue #11) – but again, if this is all a vision, none of that really matters.

Jean dismisses this version of Magneto as a terrorist fanatic whose threats are counterproductive. However, he’s got a bit more nuance to him than the actual Silver Age Magneto, whose portrayal hovered between mutant supremacist and a world-conqueror paying lip service to the idea of mutantkind. This Magneto is making an argument that the mutants need to “prepare a safe haven” for the larger mutant population to come, which sounds a lot like Krakoa. The Silver Age Jean (even with the benefit of time travel) wouldn’t know about Krakoa, but it’s still interesting that Jean responds to this proto-Krakoan agenda by claiming that he’ll just make matters worse.

PAGES 13-14. The X-Men split from Xavier.

Trish Tilby was Beast’s journalist love interest for much of the late 80s and 1990s.

Trask is Bolivar Trask, creator of the Sentinels. Scott appears to be watching Xavier’s televised debate with him from X-Men #14 (1965), or at least a version of it – Trask plainly doesn’t unveil the Sentinels in this version, because he does that separately in a few pages.

Juggernaut debuted in X-Men #12-13 (1965), so if the timeline broadly matches the actual Silver Age, this version of the X-Men still showed up to help Professor X defeat him.

PAGES 15-18. Jean covers up a mutant explosion.

Jean’s whole theory in this timeline is that the greater good is served by erasing or covering up everything bad about mutants. Inevitably this goes wrong in the end, creating a slightly different trigger for Trask to unleash the Sentinels.

PAGES 19-20. The X-Men start rounding up new mutants in advance.

Essentially, Kitty Pryde and the co-leaders of the New Mutants, Cannonball and Mirage. Cannonball’s mineshaft collapse comes from his debut in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 (1982) and is way out of the Silver Age time frame. Another sign of the world starting to become incoherent is that Kitty is much younger here than the New Mutants.

PAGES 21-22. The X-Men visit Professor X.

Obviously, this is now starting to get rather more symbolic. Magneto has become a second Professor X, complete with his own wheelchair, and is taking the moral high ground with her – which she interprets as an argument that killing people is better than removing their autonomy.

PAGES 23-24. Jean zaps Trish Tilby.

Beast claims here that Trask isn’t just rounding up other mutants, but turning them into an army – we haven’t actually seen any evidence for that, though Trask confirms it in a few pages. Of course, we’re now getting into the point where Jean keeps doubling down and making everything worse.

PAGES 25-26. Jean calls on Phoenix.

Well, that always goes well.

The main panel on page 25 is a homage to the cover of X-Men #135 (1980), where she appears as Dark Phoenix. This version of Jean promptly uses Phoenix’s power to try and eradicate dissent on a global scale.

Project Chimera was a scheme to brainwash mutants into becoming living weapons, from First X-Men (2012), in which Wolverine leads a bunch of random mutants prior to the X-Men being formed. Trask was involved with Project Chimera, but again, it’s way out of the seeming timeline here.

PAGES 27-32. Jean fights the X-Men.

And ultimately concedes that this timeline idea didn’t work at all – so decides to try for another one, apparently based on the point where she became Phoenix.

PAGE 33. Trailers. The Krakoan reads DEAD RECKONING.

Bring on the comments

  1. wwk5d says:

    Jean/Phoenix died in # 137, not # 135.

  2. wwk5d says:

    Also, Trish being a reporter is also a bit out of the seeing timeline as well.

  3. Paul says:

    Thanks, I’ve fixed the typo.

  4. Michael says:

    This seems like the biggest waste of the Fall of X minis. It’s just a series of Jean Grey What Ifs. It doesn’t impact anything.
    One question remains though- are these actual parallel universes or are the scenarios just based on Jean’s memories? Because if they’re just based on Jean’s memories, then you’d expect some of the details to be wrong, because memory is imperfect.

  5. Bill says:

    I can’t no prize away the coal mine collapse happening so early on, but Sam and Dani are canonically older than Kitty.

  6. Chris V says:

    Based on Marvel Time though, wouldn’t the coal mine collapse have had to happen at such an early point? Scott and Jean are around age 30, Sam and Dani are probably in their early-20s (at the least). Originally, sure, you had a 20 year gap between the X-Men debuting in 1963 and the New Mutants’ debut in the 1980s. However, time has been compressed, and the gap between the debut of the X-Men and the debut of the New Mutants could only be a few years apart.

    I remember in a comic published in the mid-1990s, Storm was talking about how her fight with Callisto was “many months ago”. Well, publication wise, it would have been over ten years ago. So, with compressed Marvel time, everything that happened between 1983 and 1997 took place over “many months” now. That’s a lot of major events occurring within a timespan of “months” rather than years.

  7. Mike Loughlin says:

    I had a good time with this comic! The art was attractive and clear, much better than what Chang produced for the first couple of issues of Children of the Atom. Yes, it was a What If…?, but I like What If…? Timeline changes don’t bother me, because it’s an alternate timeline or hallucination or something. I wonder if the final issue will be a resurrection, but I’m good with more alternate universe stories.

  8. Nu-D says:

    I liked the 2017 mini. One of the few things I’ve read in the past 15 years that just felt like simple fun. IIRC, it was also setting up the return of adult Jean.

  9. Chris V says:

    I’m sure the purpose of this book is that Jean is coming back. The X-books (post-Inferno) have been broadly following the outline Hickman left behind, only changing plot points (similar to what the X-office did with Claremont’s dropped plots after he left Marvel in the 1990s). We saw a rough sketch of vaguely where Hickman would have taken the line in the alternate Life Ten timeline. Based on the cover of Immortal X-Men #16, Apocalypse will be returning with the Phoenix Force Blade, as we saw used in “Inferno” to excise the Dominions from all time and space.

    In that timeline, there were multiple Phoenix-powered mutants. So, we could see Jean resurrected as the Phoenix to help Apocalypse. Of course, that timeline also led to the dystopian future which Omega Sentinel returned to the past to stop. That could mean that after the “Fall of X” we will see the mutants victorious (maybe that won’t be a better alternative than Orchis’ “Fall of X”).

    Also though, there were hints from the New X-Men teaser image by Marvel that it could have some connection with the “Age of Apocalypse”. Well, Apocalypse merged with the Phoenix Force sounds like it could be a bad combination. Perhaps it will be Jean returning as the Phoenix to stop Phoenix Force Apocalypse.

  10. Luis Dantas says:

    This issue did a good job of giving me doubts on whether Jean will return to life any time soon. We would of course expect her to, but this plot strongly hints against that. Good writing.

    It is of course a logical, natural extrapolation from her plots from the time of the jump forward in time. But whatever we are following in the main plot can’t very well be actual events from the regular timeline. Not unless we are heading to yet another mindwipe for the original five X-Men and an enormous and growing number of peripheral people. I get the sense that it is already too late for that by the time the first issue concludes.

    We may end up with some alternate Jean and/or Phoenix doing an “Old Man Logan” bit. Or this plot may be a series of deliriums or dreams. I find the former more likely and also more interesting. It is a plot that works better with a telepath and may create some interesting tensions with the two current Cables and Scott, all of which remember a different Jean. On hindsight, Jean hasn’t really had a whole lot of plot for a while now, going back to her time with the current version of X-Force.

    Who knows, maybe we will get a glimpse of the remnants of Age of X-Man’s pocket reality in this series as well. Funny how Nate Gray hasn’t been mentioned at all during the Krakoa era.

  11. Josie says:

    That logo is definitely the Jean Greyist logo I’ve ever seen.

  12. Alastair says:

    I assume this is White Hot room stuff of Jean pulling her self back together to understand who she is. If this is stepping through her history then after the Phoenix Issue we should get the X-factor/Maddie issue. This is obviously where Simonson know Jean best it will be really interesting to see how a she thinks the Jean of Krakoa relates to the character she wrote over 30 years ago.

  13. Thom H. says:

    This was unexpectedly really fun. I liked the alternate reality trope being used as a self-analysis device.

    Jean automatically assuming that the Gala massacre was all her fault is heartbreaking, but in line with what we know about her character. She’s immensely powerful even when she’s not Phoenix, and she’s Xavier’s first student. So it makes sense she feels pressure to protect everyone around her, a task she’s not always up to accomplishing.

    I liked that she took command of the (alternate) O5 when they returned to their original time. And those costumes were to die for. Really lovely.

  14. wwk5d says:

    “wouldn’t the coal mine collapse have had to happen at such an early point? Scott and Jean are around age 30, Sam and Dani are probably in their early-20s (at the least)”

    That would mean the collapse would have happened with Sam being anywhere from 8 to 10 years old, which seems a little young. What is his cannon age for the mine collapse?

    “I remember in a comic published in the mid-1990s, Storm was talking about how her fight with Callisto was “many months ago”.”

    What a coincidence! Another site just reviewed that very issue (Cable #42, published in 1997) a week or so before Paul did his annotation for this issue…

  15. Michael says:

    @wwk5d- Sam was 16 when the mine collapsed.

  16. Sam says:

    My first real experience with Jean Grey was in X-Factor, so I am happy to see that Louise Simonson still writes her as if she is a terrible person who is convinced that she and she alone is right.

  17. Nu-D says:

    The Simonsons’ X-Factor was my favorite ongoing book in my early collecting days (excepting the Classic X-Men reprints). I revisited it a few years ago, and the writing is dreadfully melodramatic, almost unreadable. In her defense, Louise was saddled with an ugly premise, with the cheating husband and the mutant hunter plot line. She salvaged it with some great plot and character ideas in Apocalypse, Archangel, Ship, Cameron Hodge, and the X-Factor kids. And Walt’s art is stupendous. But that dialogue just brings the book down to the level of almost garbage.

  18. Mike Loughlin says:

    @Nu-D: Louise Simonson made Power Pack a viable and interesting comic and brought the house down on the New Mutants chapters of Inferno…

    … but I don’t like her X-Factor run either. To be fair, I’ve only read 10 or so issues, so I might have missed some of the good stuff. If I’d encountered the comic as a kid, I might have dug it. But… the main characters were boring, I thought the Beast plot in which he loses his intelligence was stupid, the kids were kind of annoying, etc. Good for her and Walt Simonson righting the ship on the title and making it successful, and for introducing Apocalypse and making Warren Worthington III not suck. It’s just not my cup of tea.

  19. Luis Dantas says:

    The original X-Factor was an odd book, which I will always have more interest in due to the behind-the-scenes drama than to anything actually in the plot.

    At various times it seemed to go out of its way to avoid meeting the X-Men, to saddle the original X-Men with borderline horror plots, or to just torture them endlessly. Also, Apocalypse is just not a character that appeals to me; he is just too posturing to be taken seriously.

    It probably does not help that Jim Shooter was thrown out between #21 and #22. He may have been disliked, but Tom DeFalco was not an improvement at all.

  20. Michael says:

    Simonson’s X-Factor could be horrible. One thing that everyone forgets is that Simonson had Scott nearly kill Jean. Hodge tricked Scott into thinking that Jean was the Phoenix and Scott decided that the best way to prove to Jean she was the Phoenix was to shoot his eye beams at her with enough force to blow a hole in a wall. Jean only survived because Skids got Leech to cancel his powers. And Simonson basically used this incident as the start of Scott’s recovery. This was one of the reasons Maddie got turned evil- to make the readers forget what Scott had done. So basically Simonson had Scott almost kill Jean and then turned Maddie from a competent pilot and mother into a half-naked baby killing dominatrrix to make the readers forget about it. If that happened today. the readers would be furious. Cleary the reason no one forgave Hank for hitting Jan is that no one turned Jan into an evil domminatrix.

  21. Thom H. says:

    I tried to like the original X-Force and the Simonson revamp, but it never clicked for me. The mutant kids especially bugged me because they seemed like adding a cute younger cousin to a failing sitcom.

    I probably stuck around for as long as I did because of Walt’s art. Not as detailed as his work on Thor, but just as packed with bold layouts and design choices.

  22. Nu-D says:

    then turned Maddie from a competent pilot and mother into a half-naked baby killing dominatrrix

    Pretty sure the consensus puts that at Claremont’s feet, not Weezie. Not that he wanted to go there. But when he was forced to turn Maddie evil, the direction chosen screams Claremont-Silvestri.

    I had never read Simonson’s Thor (just can’t make myself care about the Asgard corner of the MU). But I checked it out this morning and was surprised to find that the issues which were concurrent with X-Factor 15-25 or thereabouts were not drawn by Simonson. He was the writer, but John Buscema was the penciller.

  23. Loz says:

    Didn’t that previous Jean Grey miniseries end with the Phoenix and Jean absolutely parting ways and she couldn’t use it to resurrect herself ever again?

    Admittedly, we’ve not seen anything so far to suggest the Phoenix is involved with Jean so she may just wait for enough of the Five to create a viable body that she could download into.

    Seeing as What If spent the eighties and nineties putting out variations of ‘What If We Crowbarred Dark Phoenix into yet another story so she can destroy the universe again’ I’m a little inured to revisiting that cul de sac and I hope this miniseries isn’t just five issues of that, but otherwise it wasn’t bad.

  24. Sam says:

    While Weezie deserves credit for righting the ship on X-Factor, it was within her power to fix the Cyclops-Maddie situation in a less explosive way than happened. Have Maddie show up at the end of an issue with the as-of-that-time-unnamed-baby and tell Scott “We need to talk.” That’s a perfect soap opera episode ending moment. It could have even happened in Bob Layton’s X-Factor (I’d say at the end of issue 4 could have been the moment for it).

    Since Weezie and Claremont were close collaborators, I imagine that he said “I’ll use her as a supporting character in my book”, and Weezie cleared the deck for him with a red-headed woman’s body showing up in Alaska.

  25. Luis Dantas says:

    Trouble is, X-Men #206 came eight months before X-Factor #13 and X-Men #215 came the month just after that issue of X-Factor, and both show Maddie to be recovering and unidentified at a hospital. X-Factor #13 implies but does not confirm that the dead body found on water was Maddie’s, and I guess that ultimately that was just a red herring if perhaps an unintentional one.

    I don’t think that the two Maddies situation makes any sense either in-world or from a reader perspective. You could bolt in some plot of Mr. Sinister wanting to confuse and torture Scott, perhaps randomly even.

    But it still makes no sense. The very existence of such a random Maddie or Maddie clone dead body could lead to X-Men or X-Factor learning of it and therefore having a reason to contact each other, which would not help Sinister nor the current plots.

    I have to assume that the editorial offices (which were separate at the time) simply did not communicate and cooperate well.

  26. Michael says:

    @Luis- the really weird thing is that in X-Men, Sinister makes it clear that the reason Maddie survived was that Sinister thought the Marauders killed her in San Francisco but she was really in a coma. So if Sinister thinks that Maddie is dead in San Francisco, then what’s the point of planting a fake body in Alaska? As opposed to allowing Scott to find the real body in San Francisco? It might work if Sinister had the baby hidden in San Francisco but the dialogue makes it clear the baby is hidden in Nebraska. So why does Sinister care whether Scott thinks Maddie died in Alaska or San Francisco?
    If you read X-Factor 38 carefully. it looks like Simonson wasn’t paying attention and thought that Maddie simply escaped the Marauders, instead of being shot and put in a coma.

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